Protest: Casino is bad bet
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Written by By DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Staff Writer
Friday, 30 October 2009 10:50
In a church about a half mile from the site of a proposed casino, a group of religious leaders and public officials laid their cards on the line - voters should reject state Issue 3 next Tuesday.
The 21 dignitaries stood rank on rank in the sanctuary of the Rossford United Methodist Church Thursday speaking to a small gathering of reporters and residents.
If Issue 3 passes, one of the casinos would be located on a riverfront site just down Miami Street. Though it sits on Rossford's "front door" as casino opponent Judy Sikorski said, the land is within Toledo's city limits. (Photo: Rev. Steve Anthony speaks out on why he thinks issue 3 is bad for the community. 10/29/09 (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune))
That won't shield Rossford from what many opponents see as the social costs and disruption the casino will create.
The Rev. Stephen Anthony, the executive director of Toledo Area Ministries, told the gathering "we want the faithful of all religions to see Issue 3 for what it really is."
"It is not a job creation issue,' he said, "it is not an economic development issue, it is a constitutional amendment that provides that the few that are already rich get richer and those of us who have to foot the bill for the social cost... will get poorer and poorer."
"Gambling does harm to the most vulnerable in our communities," said the Rev. Marla Brown, district superintendent of Methodists' Maumee Watershed District.
Brown spelled out why she believed casino are "predatory." They increase gambling addiction and crime and damage local businesses. Brown pointed to Detroit, which has had casinos since the 1990s, as an example of what gambling brings and doesn't bring.
One casino is filing for bankruptcy and addiction rates are up. The outcome in Toledo, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus will be no different, she said.
The Rev. Bob Ball, the pastor of the church hosting the rally, said these concerns were supported by those he talked to in Joliet and Aurora, Illinos, both of which have casinos owned by Penn National Gaming, the company behind the push for Issue 3.
"It will be you and me, the non-gamblers, who will be left to pick up the pieces of the lives devastated by gambling," he said.
Retired Judge Andy Devine said that the appeal to casinos as an economic stimulus was indicative of the way American society is going."
"Instead of working hard and saving and putting those savings to good use, our whole culture depends on gambling," he said, including Wall Street as a form of gambling.
Reached later in the day by telephone, Bob Tenenbaum, a spokesman for the Issue 3 campaign, conceded "there are a small number of people addicted" to gambling.
Those addicts are already in Ohio, going out of state to gamble. What Issue 3 does is generate $13 million that will be used for treatment.
He said the Illinois casinos are riverboats, located away from downtown areas, and those do draw business away from localities.
Issue 3, he said, is designed to keep the casinos as part of urban development. The casinos will work with local hotels, for instance, instead of building hotels on site.
But Ball during his talk at the rally asked: "Can we really trust the gambling industry?".
Tenenbaum said that Penn National has put its promises to hire locally and work with the local business community in writing in a letter to Mayor Carty Finkbeiner.
Penn National, he said, is a publicly traded company under the scrutiny of the Security and Exchange Commission.
"They have an obligation to their shareholders to conduct business in an open way."